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A Note From the President: March 2019
Dear Alumni/ae and Friends,
The news is out. In less than 90 days now I will be stepping down as president of NYTS. I plan to stay on the seminary faculty to continue teaching but will no longer be occupying the office of the president. I am more excited about the future of NYTS than I have ever been, and I look forward to the next part of our journey together as a pilgrim people.
As we begin to look ahead in the days to come to the announcement of a new president, I want to take a few moments to look back over the last thirteen years that I have served in this office. Consider this a personal impact statement if you will. Over the past thirteen years I have had the privilege of visiting an enormous number of churches and other faith communities in my official capacity as president of NYTS. I have preached before congregations of 10 and before congregations of 10,000. I have attended numerous galas, participated in countless public forums, and spoken at far more events than I could either remember or imagine. Most importantly, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and talk with so many whom I have come to consider friends, colleagues, and co-laborers.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow seeking justice. He tells his listeners at the beginning of the parable that it is intended to encourage them not to lose heart. At the end of the parable Jesus then asks rather provocatively, “And yet, when the Son of Humanity comes, will he find faith on earth?” Looking back on the impact these last thirteen years have had on me, I can say confidently that the answer is yes, there is still much faith to be found on earth, at least as far as those parts of the world where my work has taken me. The faith of our NYTS leaders, faith communities, and wider city population is as strong and as enduring as ever. We are clearly living through a time of change in which faith is taking on new forms and more diverse expressions. I see new leadership emerging, often from places considered too marginal to the overall life of the city. I see the divine being manifested in ever new and engaging ways.
This spring we launched the new Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Doctor of Ministry cohort with scholarship support from Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Brooklyn, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood. The cohort of “Powell Fellows” is organized around the leadership legacy of The Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the Senior Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem who was a member of the US House of Representatives for thirty years. One of the primary texts I am using in my class is a collection of Rev. Powell’s sermons and speeches published in 1967. The title of the book is Keep the Faith Baby!
We have kept the faith at NYTS for 119 years. We will continue to do so going forward into the future. I invite you to reaffirm your support this spring for the future of NYTS by making a “keeping the faith” gift during these final weeks of my presidency. I thank you for your love, encouragement and support all of these years
Dale T. Irvin
President and Professor of World Christianity